A woman who was receiving care at a Shoreview chiropractic clinic screamed for help as her 18-month-old son got caught under her treatment table and was crushed to death, authorities said Friday.
The mother, Amy Newton, was strapped onto the 315-pound table when her son apparently climbed underneath and pushed a button or lever that lowered it, Ramsey County Sheriff's Office spokesman Randy Gustafson said.
Clinic staff had left Newton and three children, all under the age of four, in the treatment room alone. Newton unsuccessfully tried to free herself from the table to rescue her son, authorities said. After hearing Newton scream, employees rushed into the room. They lifted the table off the boy and performed CPR.
The boy, Benjamin Bryan Newton, suffered head trauma and was taken to Region's Hospital by paramedics. He was pronounced dead less than an hour after the incident occurred. Amy Newton, of Mounds View, was not injured.
The Sheriff's Office is investigating, but Gustafson said he does not expect any criminal charges in connection to the incident. "It just looks like a horrible accident," he said.
The incident occurred at First Chiropractic, where Newton was receiving care from Dr. Lowell Magelssen. The Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners' online database shows that Magelssen has been a licensed chiropractor for 27 years and has no history of disciplinary actions.
Clinic staff and Magelssen did not respond to phone calls and emails seeking information about whether the clinic routinely leaves patients unattended during treatment. The director of the Minnesota Board of Chiropractic Examiners also did not immediately return a call for comment.
Gustafson said the mother had received care at the clinic several times before Thursday's incident. He said the initial investigation found that clinic employees do not always remain in the treatment room.
"This is kind of like standard operating procedure," he said. "It wasn't that out of the ordinary to leave people unattended for a few moments."
He added, "In hindsight, you go, 'It's got red flags everywhere.'"
The table that fatally injured the boy is sold by a company named Chattanooga. The company website says Chattanooga is "the world's largest manufacturer of rehabilitative equipment for treating skeletal, muscular, neurological and soft tissue disorders." Chattanooga did not return calls for comment.
Scrip Companies, a company that distributes the machine, declined to comment on whether they are looking into possible flaws with the table.
"We will wait for instructions from the manufacturer," said Heather Zdan, vice president of marketing for the Illinois-based company.
The FDA cleared the machine for marketing in 2006. FDA spokeswoman Karen Riley said there are no reported injuries associated with the machine, which is sold under the name Triton DTS (Dynamic Tension System) TRT-600.